April 22, 2007

A Mechanic, a Real Estate Agent and a Pine Tree Walk Into a Bar...

Stop me if you've heard this one before. Lots of pitching woes to talk about over the last few days. The Post alone has stories on Patterson's mechanics, Cordero's location and Matt Chico's remarkable, heretofore unadvertised ability to pitch sideways. You guys in the Marlin's dugout better NOT be drinking any F@&$*#g Merlot! (What do you want from me, Dave Shenin already covered all the obvious Major League and Bull Durham jokes.) But seriously, he does this 3-4 times a year? He does it down in the bullpen during warm-ups?! I know this team is on a budget, but can we please all chip in a get this kid a rosin bag before an errant 5th inning pitch takes out big-headed Abe Lincoln?

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Natosphere
Cap Pun and OMG go into greater detail on the pitching struggles of the Big Unhealthy, and Federal Baseball has a much expanded post on the myriad Pattersonian possibilities, featuring a guest appearance by Bill James. What it all boils down to is that some combination of injury, insufficient rehab time and fatigue have combined to render J-Patt our least effective starter (though Chico seems determined to make a run at that title.) And that's the best case scenario. The other two possibilities are that J-Patt has developed a new injury that he hasn't felt the need to disclose, or that the repeated cycle of injuries and surgeries have completely destroyed his mechanics. Time will tell, but Patterson's struggles, combined with Chico's wildness, Williams' lack of confidence, Bergmann's inevitable return to Earth, and Shawn Hill's ill-advised Alex Escobar impersonation, put even more pressure on our indentured serv... I mean, relief pitchers.

Bad pitching is like an
Ouroboros, the serpent that devours its own tail. It is its own cause and effect, a vicious Catch-22. Bad starting pitching forces relievers into games earlier. Relievers get overworked and tired, and pitch badly. Managers, in an attempt to spare the bullpen, leave struggling starters in the game longer, which wears them out both physically and mentally, and usually doesn't end up sparing the bullpen much anyway. Really, the only cure for the Nats current pitching problems is to take every pitcher on the 25-man roster with an option to burn and start shuttling them back and forth to AAA Columbus to rest them. If we're going to use six pitchers a game every night, we ought to at least try to guarantee that they aren't the same six pitchers.

Ouroboros image courtesy of Undecidable.net

April 19, 2007

Why We Fight

Trivia Time

Quick quiz: What's worse than being the worst team in baseball? Losing to the worst team in baseball.

Follow-up Q:
What's worse than losing to the worst team in baseball? Losing to the worst team in baseball in extra innings.

Lightning Round:
Which of these two teams is the worst team in baseball? OK, so the answer is actually KC, but where's the fun in that?

Bonus question:
Why did the guy working the grill at the Dominic's behind Sec. 313 laugh when Dave ordered the half-smoke on Tuesday night? Feel free to come up with your own answer to that one and post it in the comments section. Best answer wins a voucher for one free grilled hotdog.*

Game Notes
  • Judging by the composition of the crowd at the end of the 13th inning, Phillies fans do not have homes, meaningful jobs or families that miss them. To compensate, they have an abundance of Federline-esque facial hair styles.
  • Until someone comes up with something better, I'm dubbing Michael Restovich "Raskolnikov". Why? Because it's been colder than Siberia in the outfield these last few games. Oh yeah? Think you can do better?
  • In honor of Felipe Lopez's 2nd stolen base of the season, I'm inaugurating "FLoperation: 50". To date, "FLoperation: 50" is 1/25 complete with 147 games to go. It's in the bag.
  • Jason "Harvey" Bergmann is our second best starting pitcher. Let that sink in. Did you just throw up in your mouth a little bit? It's ok, that's natural.
Zen and the Art of the Double Switch

As anyone who follows this team even casually knows, the marking theme for the 2007 Nats is "Pledge Your Allegiance". Not the most original tag line, but it does evoke some of key themes for the season. It implies shared sacrifice and commitment (to getting good seats in '08). The more I think about it though, the more I appreciate an earlier marketing campaign; Nationals Baseball - Let Yourself Go. Sure, at the time it seemed cheesy and sort of slapdash, just like everything else about the organization. But it the fullness of time it takes on a sort of unintentional brilliance.

To really enjoy this season we're going to have to let ourselves go. The outfield bleachers should be replaced with meditation mats. The rally music swapped out for sedate orchestral pieces and the muted sounds of flowing water. The 2007 Washington Nationals will be an exercise in baseball Zen. Do not desire, just let yourself go. OOOOOMMM...

For you see, if you desire a win against the Phils, you're likely to be upset when your "closer" allows back to back singles to open the 9th and doesn't even attempt to strike anyone out until after the tying run scores on an infield groundout. If instead you merely experience the game you will delight in the cosmic justice that flows naturally from every Philthydelphia loss. OOOOOMMM...

* Offer not valid in the continental United States, Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, Stuttgart and Baltimore. Hot dog may or may not contain dog. Void where prohibited or allowed by law. Nor purchase necessary to enter, but if you slip me a sawbuck your odds of winning improve dramatically. All rights (except the right to a late term abortion) reserved.

April 18, 2007

Quick notes from a cold ballgame.

Watson, Nate and I were at the game last night, and froze our colletive tails off.

The Post summary gets the tribute right. The team fielding with VT hats was a touching move, and the fact you could "tell" it was done quickly, without corporate BS, made it genuine. We commented in the stands how it just seemed that someone ran to the store and bought all the hats they could -- and, as the Post explains, we were right.

I won't do game summaries -- others do that better.

I will say I found the Half-Smoke. And it is yummy. Small, but yummy.

April 13, 2007

A Brief Respite

Call it the night the lights went out in Georgia as the Nationals managed to sneak a win out of Atlanta yesterday. I watched the very beginning of the game when Jason "Harvey" Bergmann managed to get out of a bases loaded jam in the first and the very end of the game when Cordero managed to get out of a bases loaded jam for the save.

Even with this disastrous beginning of a season I found myself on the edge of myself last night as if this was a playoff game. Maybe it was win starvation after seeing this team lose eight of nine or it could have been just good old baseball drama. At any rate it was nice to see a W go in the books. Let's hope they keep it up.

April 9, 2007

DM, are you out there?

I'm looking for DM from the classic, and much missed, Nats Blog. DM, I want to talk to you about this event and crunching some stats for me. You've been mentioned 4 times so far by our friends in the Natosphere.

Are you out there? Can we talk? dave (at) evolvetech (dot) com.

Anyone know where he is? :)

April 6, 2007

My day with the Nats sales office

I could talk about Opening Day. And I likely will revisit it. (Nate's fury was among many amusing moments for me). I'm also going to address the whole bitterness thing and the impression that I whine. Cause I wine, not whine, for the record.

No, today I have something far more fan boy to talk about. It's going to require some background, so let me get that part out of the way.

Besides playing a corporate overlord in a low-rated Nationals Blog, I own a company that does IT consulting for small businesses.  We do a lot of work with Microsoft, and we’re looking for ways to show off some of our cool messaging and remote access capabilities, particularly related to Windows Mobile handhelds.  You’ll see where I’m going with this in a second.   Windows Mobile, besides having all the cool Blackberry like features of getting email in real time also allows you to manage Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents anywhere you have an Internet connection via wireless, like Verizon, Cingular or Sprint.   I do a lot of reading email in the stands at RFK.

We do a lot of “event based marketing”, so rather than plaster our message in print, we invite customers or potential customers out to see the technology we talk about and do education.  The best events are ones that are different….. 

… like what we’re working on now.

Showing off data manipulation in the field is boring when it’s related to business, but doing data analysis, say on baseball statistics when on a handheld sitting in the stands, that’s more interesting and a hell of a lot more fun.

Microsoft and Evolve (my company) have put our heads together and we want to do an event at a Nationals baseball game – specifically, the May 17 day game.    We want to put together teams of our customers and potential customers to use Windows Mobile handhelds in the stands to play a game using Excel to track player stats in real time.   This part of the event has me in some need for help from the blogging community, and Evolve and Microsoft are going to do something for the bloggers to make it happen. Can you say "Evolve will pay for beer at a tailgate?" Business deductible beer is the best tasting beer, for the record. I am happy to provide some samples.

I'll be blogging about this too more in coming days.

Tuesday I went downtown to meet with someone in corporate sales with the Nats to discuss the event, and had the opportunity to have a meeting at the corporate sales office on Connecticut Avenue downtown. (There is a small team store in the lobby, BTW). Thus the fan-boy part of the story begins.

Getting off the elevator at the 8th floor, the Nats are on one side and Smith Barney on the other. Smith Barney has a big, brown wood entry way -- and our Nats have a colorful, LCD peppered entry way. There are multiple TVs behind the receptionist's desk -- a large center one showing game highlights, and smaller ones around it with the logo, and info about where you are ("welcome to the sales and marketing center" kind of things).

There are also lots of drawings of the new ballpark, as well as assorted pieces of baseball memorabilia -- bats, balls, pictures of RFK, a plush blue seat (I believe from the Home Plate Suite), and assorted curly W logos and the circular DC logo on the floor.

I was escorted into conference room 2, which had a combination of baseball pictures (old time baseball shots) and pictures of the new stadium and suite layouts. It's much more detailed diagrams than I had seen before, showing elevations and angles on the seating, particularly related to the suites and their positioning.

The gentleman from the sales department was a gracious host, and we discussed specifics about the event and what we're planning. Nothing is decided yet in terms of specific logistics, so I don't have anything to report there, but it was a great meeting and I think we'll be making some progress. I will report back.

I left the meeting just grinning ear to ear -- besides being able to work something out with the ball team, I got to spend some time in the Nats office and not just loiter. A very professional, very neat experience in the office. I texted Nate and Watson as I wanted to share the fan boy experience.

April 2, 2007

Surely Media Stardom Awaits

Every once in awhile being stuck in traffic at 11:30 in the morning results in mass media exposure. As fate would have it, while the rest of the Natosphere was sipping cocktails and scarfing down bagels at MissChatter's tailgate, I was parked on 395 with the teeming masses of humanity who responded to Stan Kasten's pleas for Opening Day attendance. (I'm sure the fact that it was a beautiful 80 degree day had nothing to do with the last second mass migration to RFK.)

In any case, I missed out on the free nosh, and on being interview for the Post's premier cable television flackfest, but I did score some column inches from
Bog-Meister Dan Steinberg, who looks exactly as scruffy and disheveled as a new papa ought. Dan had some hard-hitting, investigative journalist-style questions about the soon-to-be-worldwide phenomenon known simply as GUZMANIA! You can read all about it here, though you won't find it anywhere in the ink-and-paper edition (massively overpriced at $0.35.)

Chatting with Dan did cause me to miss the first pitch, though a few innings later I'd just as soon have missed the whole game. And no sooner did I get done singing the praises of the new-and-improved '07 Guzman then he puts up an 0-fer and
pulls a hammy. Shades of 2006. So that shows you what my support will do for you. (In case you're wondering, I'm voting for the Kucinich-Hunter ticket in '08. Go team!)

Most of the rest of what I have to say about yesterday's game is unprintable. Suffice it to say that I agree with
Dave's assessment. It feels like things at RFK are sliding into reverse.